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Fox 2000 Makes First-Look With ‘Hunger Games’ Producer Nina Jacobson

Mike Fleming

Fox 2000 Makes First-Look With ‘Hunger Games’ Producer Nina JacobsonFox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler has made a three-year first look deal with Color Force, the production banner run by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. The first film under the new pact will be an adaptation of the Robert Crais novel Suspect.

Deal comes after Jacobson completed the quartet of The Hunger Games films for Lionsgate, pictures which have preoccupied the former Disney production chief for several years. Color Force worked with Gabler’s division on the Wimpy Kid series, and Jacobson and Simpson have numerous book related projects percolating. They include Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and Crazy Rich Asians, and there is also an enduring courtship if novelist Donna Tartt for her title The Goldfinch, which would land at Warner Bros. The author has shown reluctance, as that studio has sat on her debut novel, The Secret History, and has resisted demands by the author to give back the rights. Color Force senior veep Bryan Unkeless will be the liaison.
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Hot Teaser: Propaganda, Interrupted In ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1′

Hot Teaser: Propaganda, Interrupted In ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1′President Snow (Donald Sutherland) again addresses the citizens of dystopian Panem in a new teaser from Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1. This time he’s got Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and District 7 victor Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) obediently by his side in the faux-propaganda vid from the Nov. 21 sequel:

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UPDATE: Lionsgate Says It Will Ramp Up Brand Extensions Including New Game And Exhibition For ‘Hunger Games’

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 6:09am PDT

Mockingjay Part 1 - Teaser PosterLionsgate continues to feast on The Hunger Games, and other properties. The studio said today that it named Jenefer Brown to a new job of SVP for Branded Attractions. And it unveiled two specific initiatives: Lionsgate partnered with game company Kabam to produce, as this morning’s release put it, “an exclusive role playing, card collection mobile game that will deliver the action of the blockbuster film into the hands of avid fans around the world.” In addition, Lionsgate plans a U.S. tour of “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition” for summer 2015. With help from Thinkwell Group, a location-based entertainment company, the exhibition will include interactive displays as well as costumes and props.

“Now that we’ve built a critical mass of intellectual property, we’re committed to extending our brands into exciting new businesses that create opportunities for our fans to engage with our properties at the same time they deliver significant incremental financial benefits to Lionsgate,” Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen says. He adds that Brown will report to him and oversee the Hunger Games exhibition tour and “explore additional theme park attraction and other location-based entertainment opportunities around the world for ..the Company’s entire portfolio of branded properties.” She has worked on location and live entertainment projects for Warner Bros. Entertainment, Anschutz Entertainment Group, the National Basketball Association, CORE Media Group, Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon Animation Studios.

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UPDATE: Soundelux Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; Pink Slips For 30

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 3:29pm PDT

2ND UPDATE, 3:29 PM: Today’s closures of Soundelux’s facilities in Hollywood and Santa Monica have resulted in layoffs of about 30 of the historic postproduction Todd-Soundelux_logosound studio’s 200 employees, said Leslie Cohen, the company’s bankruptcy attorney. “There are no further imminent layoffs expected at this time,” she said, noting that the company’s Burbank facilities remain open for business. “The company is still in business and intends to stay in business, and will satisfy all of its commitments to its customers, pay its creditors, and will sell the business as a going concern. The bank is consenting to the company’s further operations and restructuring efforts.” Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘American Hustle’ Nominee Jennifer Lawrence On Her Role And Chemistry With David O Russell

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The chance that Jennifer Lawrence will repeat as an Oscar winner, this time for Best Supporting Actress for her work Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle Oscar Racein American Hustle, has grown stronger since she won the Golden Globe and then surprisingly took the BAFTA award for Supporting Actress.

While Lawrence probably ate more salmon than an Alaskan grizzly bear during last year’s endless awards circuit banquet campaign leading up to winning the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, she has been relatively scarce in this race, mainly because she has been busy moving between her role as Katniss Everdeen in the final two installments of The Hunger Games shooting back-to-back, and playing Mystique in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Lawrence was doing re-shoots on the latter when she won the BAFTA last week. It was David O Russell, who directed Lawrence in both Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, who accepted the award in her place. “I’d sat with her at last year’s BAFTAs, when she didn’t win, and me being loyal to her, I was upset and that became a screen grab for everybody and so this year, it was my pleasure to give what might have been the most heartfelt speech ever on her behalf after Leonardo DiCaprio gave me her award,” Russell told me.

Where was Lawrence during all this drama?

american-hustle-clip-jennifer-lawrence-photo“Oh, it was a big surprise,” she told me when she took a few minutes away from shooting. “I didn’t remember that the BAFTAs were happening that day. I certainly did not think I was going to win one so I put it out of my mind,” she said. “So there I was, in the middle of being painted blue, and someone said, ‘You just won the BAFTA!’ And I said, ‘Oh, go f*ck yourself!’ And then it turned out they were serious.”

This is the refreshing thing about watching this young actress grow up before our eyes. She is more fun to watch than a lot of veteran actresses who win, and act like it’s the first time even as you suspect they’ve already made room on the mantel for yet another trophy. With Lawrence, the coltish awkwardness and unpredictability seem genuine, and seem just right for a 23-year-old who has gotten her third Oscar nomination and who anchors one of Hollywood’s most lucrative film franchises in Hunger Games. In fact, these awards fill her with so much anxiety that she has found it refreshing to be working rather than going from one campaign stop to the next. Read More »

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CAA Inks ‘Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson

By | Thursday February 6, 2014 @ 12:08pm PST
Mike Fleming

hutcheEXCLUSIVE: Josh Hutcherson, who has starred in The Hunger Games and Journey To The Center Of The Earth franchises, has signed with CAA. He has been in play since recently leaving ICM, the agency that repped the young actor since he was 11 years old and which booked him into those career-making roles as well as The Kids Are All Right. Hutcherson is managed by The Beddingfield Company. He will next be seen in the two installments of the final Hunger Games book Mockingjay as Peeta Mellark.

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Lionsgate Issues Statement On Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death; ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Role Had Been Mostly Filmed

Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead MockingjayThe studio behind The Hunger Games franchise which introduced the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee in last year’s Catching Fire has released a statement on the actor’s passing: “Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation. We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family. Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”

Related: Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead At 46 Of Apparent Overdose

We’re hearing Hoffman had completed the majority of his work on Lionsgate‘s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2 prior to his sudden death Sunday morning. He had seven days of filming to go before wrapping Mockingjay Part 2, but there’s no word yet on what Lionsgate plans to do to make up for that remaining week Hoffman was supposed to film. The role is a significant one that increases in stature following Plutarch’s introduction in Catching Fire, in which the new Head Gamemaker shares brief encounters with Katniss and is seen pulling strings for the Capital behind the scenes. In the subsequent Mockingjay novel which Lionsgate has split into two films, Plutarch plays a key role in the resistance. Read More »

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Best Box Office Ever? Biggest Hollywood Franchises Explode In 2015 On Historic Collision Course

star-wars-logoIn 2011, Iron Man (I and II) director Jon Favreau called the summer of 2011, “a bloodbath for Hollywood” because of the number big-budget special effects films, remakes and sequels. Pfft! Wait until you get a load of next year. The amount of big-budget sequel fare and remakes set for 2015 from the major studios is mind-boggling and add to that highly anticipated films such as Fifty Shades Of Grey and another Quentin Tarantino film in the same year and you have all the makings for the biggest movie going year in history. The year is even going to start out hitting the ground running with audience-familiar titles, but it’s the summer and holiday season of 2015 that will be packed like no other — which brings up serious questions about what will happen as some of the biggest franchises in history collide? Remember, these films need major market exposure on over 2,500-3,000 screens or more to open big and some of them hope to play for weeks. This is going to be a star-studded war. I guess it was inevitable when studios ride out the franchises as far as they do now … what are we on Mission: Impossible 5 and Fast & Furious 7 now? And we have another Star Wars on our hands.

Related: Top 10 Domestic Box Office Grossers Of 2013 (Slideshow)

Mockingjay Book CoverThe year 2015 will go down in the books as the World Cup of franchise players: Superman vs. Batman vs. The Avengers vs. Mad Max vs. Fast & Furious vs. Jurassic Park vs. Terminator vs. Fantastic Four 3D, Marvel’s Ant-Man vs. Assassins vs. Untitled Bourne Identity, and then James Bond vs. Star Wars vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 vs. Mission Impossible for top film of the year.

In kid fare, parents should be ready to be pulled to the theater time and time again (sacrificing much-needed sleep) with Cinderella, Monster Trucks, The Penguins Of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book, Alvin And The Chipmunks 4, Peanuts, The Smurfs 3, Tomorrowland, and SpongeBob 2.

Practically every genre in 2015 is looking at proven titles: The year will start with the typical early year horror film fare — again no stopping franchise names — Amityville from Dimension and Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe both in January, and Friday the 13th and Poltergeist. That will be followed by Fifty Shades Of Grey, based on the mega-selling book by EL James, which bows in February before the floodgates open again on sequels and remakes.

Related: Despicable Me 3′ Set For June 2017 Release

The plethora of franchise titles will likely push the 2015 box office to record-breaking heights as this year’s holdovers from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday fare — such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (which bows on November 21), Fox’s Night At The Museum 3 and Sony’s Annie and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: There And Back Again (or should it be called The Hobbit: Here It Comes Again) will also add to the huge overall gross numbers of 2015. Read More »

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George Clooney, ‘Hunger Games’, ‘Mary Poppins’ And More On A Dizzying Awards Season Friday Night

Pete Hammond

Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s  tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes).  Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).

At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy),  both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception).  As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time.  Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). Read More »

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Lionsgate In Talks For ‘Hunger Games’ Theme Park Attraction

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 7:21am PST

The Hunger GamesThis was one of a few interesting tid-bits that CEO Jon Feltheimer dropped in his conference call with analysts this morning. The studio’s been “approached in two territories about potential theme park opportunities” for the action film franchise, he says. “We’re pursuing them.” The company has no additional info.

Separately, Feltheimer says that a major cable operator is about to sell downloads of movies to consumers “in a short period of time.” When that happens the electronic sell-through business “is really going to open up.”

The CEO also says that we may see some changes soon at FEARnet, the VOD and broadband horror movie and TV outlet it co-owns with Sony and Comcast. The partners “continue to be mystified that FEARnet isn’t being picked up by more” pay TV companies, Feltheimer says. “We’re trying to figure out how to make FEARnet a more important part of our business or some other way to deliver value, so stay tuned.”

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‘Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire’ Tracking New November Record: Hot $140M-$150M

Hunger Games Catching Fire Box Office TrackingEXCLUSIVE: The 2nd installment of The Hunger Games film trilogy based on American writer Suzanne Collins’ bestselling books came on tracking this morning. Lionsgate’s Catching Fire three weeks out is currently looking to open with $140M to $150M in North American weekend gross. That should target the first installment’s opening of $152.5M and beat the recordholder for November, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, at $142.8M. Three weeks out, Catching Fire has 11% unaided awareness, the same as New Moon. However, Catching Fire‘s first choice at 27% is 10 points ahead of where New Moon was three weeks out. “Which we hope suggests upside in a crowded November marketplace with Thor and Frozen,” an insider tells me. Of course, tracking has been very unreliable this year and may not be an accurate measure of the film’s domestic box office prospects. The movie will be released on November 22nd. Gary Ross, director of the first Hunger Games installment, did not return and was replaced by Francis Lawrence. Pic stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. The first installment of The Hunger Games was released in March 2012 and earned $408M domestic all in, for a worldwide total of $691M.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

By | Sunday October 27, 2013 @ 7:19pm PDT

Lionsgate just dropped the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, appropriately enough, during Game 4 of the World Series. The sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and baddie Donald Sutherland hits theaters November 22. Check it out here:

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Lionsgate In Talks For ‘Burial Rites’ With Gary Ross And Jennifer Lawrence

By | Monday October 7, 2013 @ 10:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Two weeks ago when I broke the story that Imagine, Universal, Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence teaming on a two-part feature adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, I reported that The Hunger Games trio of Ross, Lawrence and producer Allison Shearmur (a key exec on the film) would come to market with the new Hannah Kent novel Burial Rites. CAA indeed took the book to auction last week, and I’m hearing that it’s likely to shape up as a complete Hunger Games reunion as Lionsgate has started negotiations for the package. The deal isn’t done, but I’m betting that it gets done this week. This comes after Kent got a seven-figure deal for her first novel from Little, Brown. It has gotten great reviews. The book tells the story a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829 and who faces becoming the last woman to be publicly executed there. The film will tell the story of a tragic romance set against the odds during an endless Icelandic summer. Stay tuned.

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‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Pre-Sales Hot Online

By | Tuesday October 1, 2013 @ 11:00am PDT

Tickets for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire went on sale just two hours ago – and presales on the Lionsgate sequel already represent 35% of all tickets sold at MovieTickets.com in the last 24 hours. Competition was hot for online ticket sellers as rivals MovieTickets and Fandango opened Catching Fire sales with exclusives to entice fans, with both offering a free soundtrack song download with purchase and Fandango teasing additional Hunger Games-themed sweepstakes, prizes, and giveaways. The action sequel adapted from Suzanne Collins’ YA bestseller opens November 22, with first showings scheduled for November 21 at 8pm local time.

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‘Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence, Gary Ross To Re-Team On Steinbeck’s ‘East Of Eden’ For Universal And Brian Grazer

By | Wednesday September 25, 2013 @ 3:54pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer have closed a deal with the John Steinbeck estate for a new version of his seminal novel East Of Eden that will be developed as a re-team for The Hunger Games director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence.

I’m told that the book is Ross’ favorite American novel and that the director plans to tell the generational story in two films. The novel previously was adapted into one picture, the 1955 Elia Kazan-directed film that starred James Dean and Richard Davalos as sons who compete for the attention of their farmer father in Salinas, CA. Ross wants Lawrence to play Cathy Ames, the cold and cruel mother of the boys and estranged wife of the farmer. The films will tell their stories, leading into the rivalry between their sons.

The studio and Imagine first acquired the 1952 novel back in 2004. This was after Steinbeck’s modern retelling of the Cain and Abel story shot back up the best-seller lists when Oprah Winfrey made it the first selection of the revived book club on her daytime talk show. I’m told that the original option lapsed, but then the studio and Grazer put together a new deal in a competitive situation, this one built around Ross and Lawrence, the latter of whom won the Academy Award in February for Silver Linings Playbook. Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley was very involved, as was Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, Uni’s co-president of production. Read More »

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Broadway’s Patina Miller Joins ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1 & 2′

By | Wednesday September 18, 2013 @ 10:00am PDT

Hunger Games - Patina MillerPatina Miller has been cast as Commander Paylor in Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. The Broadway actress/singer and All My Children alum makes her film debut in the YA sequel as the rebel commander Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) first meets in District 8. Miller starred in Sister Act on Broadway and the West End and won the Tony this year for Pippin. Miller is repped by The Katz Company and UTA.

Related: Lily Rabe Joins ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’

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Is Lionsgate’s Stock Boom About To End?

By | Wednesday September 11, 2013 @ 7:16am PDT

Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz raises that concern this morning in a report that downgrades Lionsgate to “market perform” from “buy.” The production company’s been a Wall Street hero with the success of its The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games franchises. Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent. “Although we tend to think that these three films will, taken as a whole, perform well, we think there is a risk of a sell-the-news reaction even if expectations are met,” Creutz says. “If one or more films underperform, however, we think there is a risk of significant downside to shares.” He’s concerned that Ender’s Game — about a boy who’s given the responsibility to lead the world’s military against an alien invasion — will fail to reach wide audiences after its November 1 release. In addition to “its hardcore sci-fi theme and difficult source material,” Creutz says that book author Orson Scott Card’s opposition to gay marriage “could cause some of the potential audience to avoid the film.” The analyst projects a domestic box office of $70M, which probably wouldn’t be sufficient to justify sequels. Read More »

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Lionsgate Buys Two For Elizabeth Banks’ Brownstone Banner; Erica Oyama Adapting ‘White Girl Problems’

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 11:28am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is closing two deals for book adaptations that will be produced by Pitch Perfect producers Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman through their Brownstone Productions banner. They’ve just closed a deal to acquire a pitch for hot scribe Erica Oyama to write a comedy based on Babe Walker’s bestseller White Girl Problems, a comic pseudo-memoir by a pampered gal out to show that even rich people deserve sympathy too. For example: She hates her horse and all the wealthy men she dates, and she has a shopping addiction that caused her once to spend $246,000 at Barneys in an afternoon. Authors Tanner Cohen, David Oliver Cohen and Lara Schoenhals wrote the book under the alias Babe Walker.

Lionsgate is separately acquiring for Brownstone Heist Society, the Ally Carter bestseller about a woman who has been part of a larcenous family and tries to go straight. That ends when her father is suspected of stealing a mobster’s art collection and she and a friend have two weeks to steal back the artwork and get it back to the mobster. For Banks, both of these are producing projects only at this point, and she will produce with Handelman. Read More »

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‘Hunger Games’ Actress Leven Rambin Books Pair Of Film Roles

EXCLUSIVE: Hunger Games tribute Leven Rambin will be busy this summer filming a pair of indie dramas. The actress who played Glimmer in Lionsgate’s blockbuster YA adaptation has lined up roles in Seven Minutes, rookie writer-director Jay Martin’s about a young athlete (Luke Mitchell) whose serious injury leads him to break bad, and Walter, first-time helmer Anna Mastro’s tale of a guy (Andrew J. West) who believes he’s the son of God and thinks he is destined to decide the fate of everyone he encounters. Rambin plays a love interest to the male leads in both films. The actress, whose credits also include Chasing Mavericks and an Emmy-nominated dual role on All My Children, co-stars in Fox’s upcoming sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. She is repped by CAA, The Schiff Company and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

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